5 FREE Apps For Students

Words by Bonnee Crawford

It’s 2017 and just about everyone has a smartphone. While this technology is fantastic for letting people stay socially connected while they’re on the go or keeping them occupied during a long commute, a smartphone can often be detrimental to a student’s productivity. I’m no stranger to scrolling through Facebook or sending Snapchats when I should be studying or doing an assignment and I dare say, dear reader, neither are you.

However, as with most things, their usefulness and functionality boils down to how we use them. Although the initial purpose of buying a smartphone often is for the social-on-the-go aspects, it’s absolutely possible to make them beneficial for students. The best part? You can do it for free, starting with these apps.

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  1. Calendar

If you own a smartphone, chances are you already have a built-in Calendar app. Even my ancient flip phone from when I was in high school had one. Forget keeping a paper day planner or physical student diary—you know you’re going to forget to check it or take it with you. Whether you just want to use it for scheduling study time, or if you want to use it to plan the rest of your life too, pick the date and time and your phone will remind you to do it. And we both know you’re 100% less likely to forget to check your phone than you are to check your student diary. Want something a little fancier than your standard Calendar app? Try downloading something like TimeTune (Android), My Study Life (iPhone), or any of the countless other free timetabling/scheduling/time management apps). Get a feel for what sort of features work best for you. Everyone’s a little different.

 

  1. Tide: Focus Timer to Study, Work & Relax

I found this app quite recently and it is amazing (like I am obsessed with this app right now). Tide combines ambient sounds like rain with the Pomodoro technique, which traditionally separates periods of focus into twenty-five minute sessions with short breaks in between. Pick your background sound (the lapping ocean, steady rainfall, forest noises, gentle piano, or café chatter), start your timer, and get down to business. Short focus periods with frequent breaks may sound unproductive at first, but when a timer is ticking you’ll be surprised at how much you can trick yourself into getting done. This app comes with pretty background pictures and inspiring quotes, as well as features that let you set goals and track how long you’ve focused each day. Tide is also great for unwinding—listen to one of the relaxing tracks while you get ready for bed to promote some restful sleep (which will help improve productivity the next day!).

Compatible with Android and iPhone.

 

  1. 30 Day Fitness Challenge

I don’t know about you guys, but I could not afford a gym membership during my undergrad. Going for a walk or a jog instead is a good way to keep active while you’re studying, but these activities get monotonous after a while. 30 Day Fitness Challenge is a great way to mix it up. It’s like having a little personal trainer on your phone, and you don’t need gym equipment to do the exercises. There are six levels to choose from based on your abilities, and you can choose to focus on particular muscle groups or do full body workouts. The app will time you while you complete each exercise and allow you to have a break between each set (and a rest day every 4 days!). The exercises can all be done at home and the gamification that comes with building up your streak keeps you motivated to return to the app each day. The levels start off short and sweet on day one and build in intensity over the 30 day period.

Compatible with Android and iPhone.

 

  1. GymBetter

Okay, so you don’t want to commit to a gym membership because damn that’s expensive, but you would like the option to sometimes go to the gym without spending the same amount on casual entry that you would have spent in a fortnight on gym membership anyway. GymBetter gives you discounted casual access to participating gyms (YMCA*, Fernwood Fitness, and Goodlife) and you can even go to a group class. If you don’t have the funds for a gym membership, or you know you wouldn’t go often enough to make it worth paying for, download GymBetter so that you can get casual entry without going broke.**

*The campus gyms at Burwood and Waurn Ponds are operated by YMCA.

**If you have private health insurance with Medibank, get an extra discount, because Medibank made this app.

Compatible with Android and iPhone.

 

  1. Groupon

Speaking of discounts … students deserve to go on cool adventures and eat at nice restaurants too! Groupon offers a smorgasbord of discounts on everything from fine dining to skydiving. The possibilities are endless and if you’re a poor uni student looking for somewhere cool to go or something fun to do, you should definitely check out what you can find on Groupon.

Compatible with Android and iPhone.

* * *

Although your smartphone can distract you from being a student at the worst of times, there are ways for your mobile device to help get you through. Whether that’s in the form of helping you focus and manage your time, or making sure you keep a healthy balance between studying and the rest of life without going broke, there’s bound to be something you can download for free in your app store that will help you justify to your parents why you’re glued to your phone. Oh, and it can totally help you do better at uni and feel better as a student—remember, it’s about how you use it.

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Phillipe Sands @ Melbourne Writers Festival 2016

‘What haunts are not the dead, but the gaps left within us by the secrets of others’ – Nicolas Abraham

I was worried the early Sunday morning timeslot would deter some from experiencing the brilliance that is Phillipe Sands. But, I needn’t have worried as it seems that Sands had drawn a full house for his Melbourne Writers Festival appearance at the wonderful ACMI. He managed three appearances at the festival over 48 hours and I was lucky enough to catch his last presentation, ‘Phillipe Sands: The Origins of Genocide.’ Yeah, I know it’s not the most cheerful of subjects to be talking about early on a weekend morning but it was more than insightful.

Sands is a prolific criminal barrister, working on many of the biggest cases we have seen in recent years—the Iraq Inquiry, anybody heard of it? This is a man who knows his stuff and his stuff just happens to be crimes against humanity. What began as an exploration into the origins of the words ‘genocide’ and ‘crimes against humanity’ quickly turned into something more personal for Sands. The more he researched, the more he found little coincidences that connected his own family to the two men who created those phrases post-World War II. He presented his research and own family story with gusto and just a twinge of sadness—he never spoke to his grandfather about his wartime experiences but boy were they worth talking about.

phillipe-sands-mwf16

Photo credit: Tegan Sizer

Sands explored the often under researched relationship between grandparent and grandchild, made especially tricky when that grandparent had experienced trauma. Sands’ point was made with little jargon, weaving everyday language with psychological research that left the audience (an audience of mainly over 55s—I, at 25 years old, stood out like a sore thumb) questioning their own relationships with others.

Sands is a charismatic speaker, the (in my opinion) too-short 60 minutes flew by and I was left wanting more. Sands was joined on stage by esteemed ABC Radio presenter Rafael Epstein who seemed to be just as much in awe of Sands as his audience was. Epstein asked questions that prompted just the right answers without revealing too much of East West Street’s plot.

I want you all to go out and read Sands’ resulting novel, East West Street: On the Origins of “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity”, so I will not reveal any of the captivating things Sands discovers here. Just know that this novel will have you hooked from the beginning.

For me, this was the highlight of a wonderful Melbourne Writers Festival for 2016. I urge you all to do yourselves a favour and read East West Street. No, genocide is not fun to talk about but if we don’t educate ourselves on the past we are doomed to repeat it in the future. And that is exactly what Phillipe Sands is afraid of.

Words by Tegan Sizer.

Bill Leak and the Ethics of Free Speech

Women were burned at the stake for being witches.

Homosexuals didn’t get a stake. They were thrown on with the rest of the faggots. Hence the slur.

I went to a single-sex Catholic school that promised to create ‘gentlemen’.  Even though I was in the closet, kids called me faggot. Yes, other children laughed, and yes, staff let it pass. Eventually the fear that word inspired curated a desire to be straight so acute that I managed to convince myself, fleetingly, that I was.

This is not to frame my life as being traumatic. My immediate family is accepting of my sexuality, although it took them some time. I am also white and comfortably positioned in the upper echelons of the middle class. I have a good life. But even though I live with my partner (and our Chihuahua Spooky-Sue) I still struggle with my own internalised homophobia to this day. I’m in the closet at work. I’m afraid of my extended family. I check my surroundings each time I reach out to touch my partner in public. I’m constantly engaged in an act of self-policing: adjusting my presentation in a proverbial mirror, occasionally tugging at the hems of my personality to drag it straight (often unsuccessfully) so that I can pass through my day unremarkably. Occasionally amongst friends I drag my own sexuality, wearing clothing which defies the typical masculine presentation. This is a behaviour we are all engaged in: a moderation of our personalities to make ourselves part of society. Increasingly I am finding these acts of moderation in regards to my queerness an increasing annoyance. Why is it that I should have to moderate myself? Cartoons like Bill Leak’s—which depict marching queer people as Nazi’s—are why.

I should declare that I’m not really for marriage. It’s just not for me. I find the idea of belonging to somebody, of engaging in a ritual that has for centuries been a way of commodifying women to be problematic. I am not in the majority with this opinion and I’m okay with that. The meaning of marriage is changing alongside feminism and that’s a good thing. Love and how it is measured and moderated means different things for alternate members of the community. Conversations around these divisions and the meaning of marriage should be able to be discussed respectfully within the community. This is true of the marriage equality debate, the details of which I will not reiterate here, except with the caveat that I am unreservedly for changing the law to make it possible without the unnecessary emotional and fiscal expenditure of a plebiscite.

Bill Leak’s cartoon (The Australian, September 21st, 2016) which equates homosexuals or those for same-sex marriage as being a militant arm of the Nazi party is an example of two things: a complete failure to contribute to a reasoned debate and an erasure of the histories I have just explored.

bill-leak

Cartoon by Bill Leak, The Australian, 21 September 2016.

To equate homosexuals with a militant arm of the Nazi party is unthinkably offensive, especially given that queer people were targeted and murdered during the Holocaust. Flipping the dynamic is a gross perversion of the truth—queer parties aren’t seeking out straight cis people in their homes, abducting them, forcing them into labour and then exterminating them. While I am aware that Nazism has come to mean fascist in a contemporary context, the fact that this cartoon made it through an editorial team that didn’t consider this particular element of the joke is a gross failure on The Australian’s behalf.

When speaking to a broader historical context, I think a far more insidious aspect of this cartoon slips into focus. I opened with the horrific history of the term ‘faggot’ because I think it illustrates the dehumanisation of queer people with a shocking potency. And taking this into account, the loudness and demand to be heard that Leak equates to Nazism becomes something different: it is a demand—a desperate need to reclaim equal recognition as a human being in society. When one acknowledges the trajectory of queer people in their quest for equal recognition of this, the vitriol, the need to call out homophobia and those who practice it casually gains an urgency that is erased by Leak’s cartoon.

There will be those who come out, as Jennifer Oriel (The Australian, 2016) amongst others did, arguing that Leak’s opinion is part of the debate and an important illustration of free speech. Do not let this delusion fool you. Even if the Australian Press Council finds your factually incorrect and offensive work about a minority, it does not technically qualify for the legal requirements of hate speech. It does not work to diminish its hateful potential. Oriel makes the claim that the left is waging a war on free speech. If by free speech she means the espousal of factually incorrect and offensive comments then yes, she’s right. I’m at war. Cartoons and editorials like the one under discussion here don’t start important conversations—they only work to trivialise or demean already oppressed groups of people. There will be some who will point to the positive outcomes of Leak’s last controversial cartoon which features an Indigenous father who didn’t know the name of his own child. Yes, the fact that the cartoon was condemned widely was great and the #IndigenousDads campaign was truly beautiful. But conversely, I’d argue that the conversation even occurred is offensive. The fact that Indigenous Fathers had to defend themselves in counter to such an unfounded and racist proclamation exceeds comprehension.

Should Bill Leak be prosecuted or fined for saying these things? Well, he can’t be. But The Australian doesn’t have to publish his work. In what is sure to be a long and bitter campaign leading up to the plebiscite, they have the rare potential to not only shape the nature of the conversation, but the outcome itself. As a right wing media organisation the chances of them endorsing a ‘yes’ campaign is dubious. Bill Leak will probably defend his work as he has historically, labelling criticism like mine as a “tantrum” (Alex Bruce-Smith, 2016). The Press Council will probably once again dismiss complaints lodged against this cartoon as being in line with a legal free speech as they did last time (Meade, 2016). To campaign against free speech is a dangerous platform. I acknowledge this. I am lucky to live in a curious pocket of time in which I can live a homosexual lifestyle comfortably and without fear, because there were those who were able to speak before me. Free speech is vital to engendering intelligent political discourse. But within this lies an ethical dilemma, one in which writers and publishers should be asking: is the power of free speech being used to side-step truth in order to preach hate?

Words by Jack Francis.

References:

Bruce-Smith, A 2016, ‘Bill Leak Now Reckons You’re All Dummies For Not ‘Getting’ His Racist BS’, Pedestrian, August 5, 2016, retrieved 21 September 2016: https://www.pedestrian.tv/news/arts-and-culture/bill-leak-now-reckons-youre-all-dummies-for-not-ge/97439ea1-718e-488c-8d80-af9523af4ea1.htm

Meade, A 2016, ‘Press Council Declines to Sanction the Australian for Bill Leak Cartoon’, The Guardian, 6 September 2016, retrieved September 21 2016: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/sep/06/press-council-declines-to-sanction-the-australian-for-bill-leak-cartoon

Oriel, J 2016, ‘21st Century Left Waging War on Free Speech’, The Australian, August 15 2016, retrieved September 21 2016: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/21stcentury-left-waging-new-war-on-free-speech/news-story/66bcfca976659f0429bc81b2cafa558f

Why I didn’t join the gym sooner

I’ve been saying that I want to get a gym membership since I moved out of home. At first, I kept putting it off because I was just dirt poor and couldn’t afford it. For the first two years of uni I lived near a good walking track, and within walking-distance of the university, so I consoled myself in the fact that I was keeping active enough without spending the extra money. Then I moved in third year, and it wasn’t a practical walking distance to uni anymore. I started catching the bus and sitting still. On top of that, I was getting towards the end of my undergraduate degree, which had me glued to my desk chair to study for longer periods of time. I started working a lot to keep up with rent and bills, and overall I didn’t feel like I even had time to go for a casual walk. The kilos started piling on, the stretchmarks made their impressions on my skin, and I started to feel incredibly self-conscious about my body.

At the start of 2016, I realised I’d put on around 30 kilos. Honestly, it made me feel really shit. I’ve always agreed with the talk about body positivity and self-love, but when it came to looking at my own body in a mirror, I felt disgusted. My mother is severely overweight, but when I was little that didn’t matter to me. I thought she was beautiful, even if she was bigger than other kids’ mums. But she had a bad attitude towards her size 26 outfits, and every time she asked, ‘Do I look okay?’ and my sister and I would tell her she looked fine, she wouldn’t believe us, and would say things like, ‘I’m so fat and ugly,’ or ‘I don’t look good in anything’. After this went on for a few years, her attitude made us start to believe it, and she began projecting these insecurities onto us as we got older. She would hound us about our own eating habits, sporting activities, and weight. While I was in high school, I was involved in martial arts, Girl Guides, swimming club, and a netball team, which I started dropping out of closer to VCE when I needed to focus on my studies. As soon as I stopped being as active Mum started policing everything I did even more; every time I put something in my mouth, every time I took a break from studying without doing something active to counter all that sitting, every time she just didn’t feel like I was doing enough, she was there, ready to tell me what she thought I was doing wrong. As a teenager, I became self-conscious of a problem I didn’t even have because of my mother’s constant surveillance and criticism.

When I started putting weight on at uni, she told me that my arse was getting big. I was mad for a number of reasons. First, because I didn’t feel like she had the right to criticise my pants going from a size 12 to a size 14–16 when she had been a size 26 for as long as I could remember. Secondly, because she expected me to do something about it even though she never made an ongoing effort to change her own body. And finally, because at uni, I was being exposed more and more to the idea of accepting the bodies we have, of anti-body shaming and self-love, especially for women. So although I didn’t want to listen to my mother criticising my body, I had an evaluation dilemma: no, I didn’t want to be ashamed of my body and I didn’t feel like I should be criticised by others for it, but at the same time, I wanted to be healthy, and putting on a lot of weight from sitting down all day wasn’t a great indication.

I started looking at other women’s bodies and comparing them to mine. Women with long, slender legs and thigh-gaps, perky bums and skinny arms. Their bellies were flat and they all looked like supermodels. They could fit into the dresses that hug your figure, which I could hardly look at myself wearing in the change-room mirrors without cringing at the way they clung to my tummy. I realised I couldn’t fit into one of my favourite dresses without this problem, and I stopped wearing it. As much as I enjoyed good food, I found myself hating everything I put in my mouth, wanting to bring it back up so that it wouldn’t cause my body any more problems. I started watching what I ate. I started making time to go for walks, and watching Pilates videos in my room at home. And it made my body feel better to do some of these things, but when I didn’t see results within a couple of months, when I still couldn’t fit into my jeans, I really started to hate myself.

At the start of my fourth year of uni, I was in a safe enough financial position to get a gym membership, and at first I told myself that I was going to. But I realised while I was thinking about this, that the way I was thinking about my body was not healthy, and that the thoughts I was having about my own body-image were not thoughts I wanted to have with me when I started going to the gym. I realised that I needed to change the way I was thinking about my body, before I tried to change my body itself. For months, I trained myself not to compare the size of my waist or legs to that of other women. I started trying to develop healthy eating habits in a general sense, instead of trying to diet. I stopped myself from focusing so much on losing weight and being a certain size, and started thinking more about how healthy and strong my body was. And although the number on the scales hadn’t changed much, I started thinking more positively about the body I have.

At the start of Trimester 2, I joined a gym. It was tentative, and I was even more hesitant to have the sit-down with a personal trainer to get a program sorted out. But I’m glad I did, because he seemed to sense the lingering discomfort and doubts I was having about going through with the membership commitment. While we were talking, I mentioned that I’d put on a lot of weight the previous year, and that it would be nice if I could lose some. Instead of giving me some insane workout, he gave me something basic to start building up my strength, and told me not to worry about my weight and not to get obsessed with the number on the scales or what size clothes I could fit in to. It was more important for me to aim to make myself healthier than to focus so much on getting skinny, and between losing fat and gaining muscle, the number on the scale might not change so much anyway. That sort of encouragement made me feel a lot better about what I was doing, and I got the membership and started using it whenever I had time.

It is so ingrained in our culture to expect the perfect woman to be slim with a nice bum and big boobs, a flawless complexion and minimal body hair. I praise the movement against these norms. Instead of pushing ourselves towards the socially constructed image of the ideal woman, we should focus on validating all people in the bodies they own, and to teach ourselves and each other that we are worth more than our outward appearances.  Everyone has the right to be proud of their body. Now that I’ve changed the way I think about my body, I’m not afraid of making an effort to go to the gym and be active and healthy in other aspects of my life. Even though I can’t always see the results, I know them from the way my body feels. I’m still sitting at a size 14-16, and maybe I always will, but my body feels healthier and happier, and so do I.

Words by Rebecca K.

Earth-Shattering

 First, came the silence.

The silence of people used to waiting, waiting for it to pass so they could go on with their lives as if nothing had happened. For some it was a silence to show strength and how little it affected them. A tilt to one side, then to the other. Nothing to worry about. For others, it was a scared silence, embarrassed to vocalise their fear, because like many other times, it would be over soon. Another tilt to the right, then left. A hand gripping the nearest table. Nothing to worry about.

The waves kept getting stronger. Until you felt your body flowing along with it, because not flowing meant falling. And when the lights went out and the waves got stronger, that confidence and fear melted into panic, settling right in our guts. And as the movement kept going, that panic rose up our throats. It tried pushing its way out, but was trapped within us.

No sound other than the stunned silence, a silence that came with the realisation that it was not going away. That we weren’t going to go on with our lives just yet. That this time, something did happen.

And then, it was over. Our everyday comfort, shattered by the earth beneath us. The silence shattered by the clapping of shoes on concrete, the hurried whispers, and the screams finally making their way out. People tapping on phones, searching for answers to what just happened. Is my family okay? Are my friends okay? Where was it? How strong was it? How many dead?

Are we okay? Are we okay? Are we okay?

***

In the morning, the news completed what social media had told us the night before. The epicentre was in Pedernales, a small, coastal town, 250km away from Guayaquil, my hometown.

7.8 magnitude. 233 dead, 558 injured, and counting.

Over the following days, the numbers kept climbing. People who’d been there as volunteers, rescuers, medics, said it was worse, much worse than what the news was showing.

By the end of the week, after the rescuing brigades had finished going through most of the debris, the death toll tripled, and the injured increased tenfold.

***

Earthquakes, I’ve learned, change the way you see everyday things. The roof over your head is no longer a source of comfort and safety, but of fear, a threat, looming over you whether you’re sleeping, shitting or eating. You are more aware of any shadow of a movement than you’ve ever been in your life, to the point where the sway of a lamp, even a ripple in a glass of water makes your muscles freeze and your skin tighten until it suffocates you. Anything more sends you running out in the open, where there is nothing between you and the sky.

Then, there are the aftershocks. They sneak up on you in your sleep, days after, weeks after, months after, just when you’re starting to feel safe again, to make sure you don’t get too comfortable. For us in Guayaquil it meant more sleepless nights. But for the people in Pedernales it meant sleeping outside, preferring the cold mattress of the street than the possibility of another ton of bricks or wood collapsing on top of them. What was a simple fear for us in Guayaquil was a reality for them. Their worst nightmare had already happened, and yet there was still the possibility, the very real possibility, of it repeating itself.

Before this happened, I, along with many other Ecuadorians, had no idea Pedernales even existed. Now the town and its people were there, every day, on my TV screen, on my phone, in my friends’ conversations, and on my mind. When you see news of a disaster on TV, you feel bad for the people, but there’s distance. This time, that distance disappeared. Because those people weren’t suffering oceans away. They were part of our country, right in the nearest province. They were no longer strangers, they were our brothers and sisters, ones whom we would work tirelessly to help.

That day also changed the way I saw my neighbours and fellow Ecuadorians. People who wouldn’t even be speaking to each other, working shoulder to shoulder, united to deliver help. People calling everyone they knew to collect donations, staying until midnight organising them to be shipped to the victims, people offering their homes, their garages, their warehouses as collection centres for donations. Supermarkets flooded by people buying water, tuna cans, powdered milk, leaving the shelves empty for days. Pharmacies went out of stock for first aid kits, because everyone wanted to contribute, if only with some Band-Aids and rubbing alcohol. Even Ecuadorians living or studying abroad made donation websites, collections for money or products to send here. I had never felt more proud to be a part of this small country.

Earthquake 4

Photograph by Claudia Sensi Contugi.

***

Three weeks after, I went to Pedernales with a brigade from Hogar de Cristo (which means ‘Christ’s Home’ in Spanish), a humanitarian organization that specialises in providing assistance to the homeless. Our mission in Pedernales was to do a census of the areas where the people were most affected so that we could start building emergency homes.

We left Guayaquil at 11PM and at 6AM the bus dropped us off at the central square of Pedernales. In the middle of the square was the façade of a church, the only thing standing from its previous structure. We lay our backpacks on the concrete floor and sat on metal benches, nailing at the chipped paint while we waited for the leaders to guide us to our headquarters for the weekend.

‘If we had come here two weeks ago, you would’ve had to bring all your meals and water,’ said a curly haired girl, one of the organisers. ‘Thankfully, the economy’s reactivating, so you can go and find some breakfast nearby and meet us here at 6:35.’

We followed the smell of a bakery. As we walked, I noticed almost every building still standing sported several cracks racing up their walls. One of them had its entire second story exposed, and among the piles of bricks, you could see a bed, flipped upside down, a table with broken legs, and a toilet. Signs that it used to be a home.

‘Last weekend, there was a three story building there,’ said our group leader, as he pointed to a terrain piled with crumbled concrete, wooden shards and strings of rebar bent and rolled like a ball of yarn. He took one last bite from his bread, then led us to our camping site. The first thing we saw was a white tent and church pews lined up below. Further in was a square of grass, and a small building with living quarters.

The group leader spoke as he laid his backpack on one of the pews. ‘Hogar de Cristo had spoken to a group of Jesuit nuns who lived here, and they offered us the yard so we could set up our tents here. The nuns used to live in the church, but when it collapsed, they came to live here. A priest comes on afternoons and evenings to celebrate mass. Come, sit.’

We sat and waited to be assigned an area to cover for the day.

We spent that morning doing surveys with different families. We asked them about the damages of their home—was it partially or completely destroyed? How was the quality of the roof, the walls?—We asked about the shelters they were staying at—did they have access to water? Sanitation? Medical attention?—And which of these things they needed the most at that moment. Then came the tougher questions. Any family members injured, disappeared? Any losses?

The families I interviewed were lucky enough to have all their members together. But I discovered that what affected them the most wasn’t when they spoke of the damage of their home or what was needed the most at that moment. It was when I asked about their lives before the earthquake. What was their home like? What did they do for a living? Were they still able to do that job?

One of my interviewees was a teacher. When I asked how the catastrophe had affected her work, she said, ‘Well, the school collapsed, so I don’t work there anymore.’ She looked down and her eyes trembled. ‘I had only entered the school three weeks ago as a secretary, and now it’s gone.’ These questions were necessary for us to understand the structure of the town and to help reactivate their economy in the future. But for her, it was a painful reminder that things weren’t going to be the same. That she would not be able to return to what her life used to be.

Earthquake 5

Photograph by Claudia Sensi Contugi.

***

In the afternoon, we stopped for lunch at one of the semi-collapsed houses. From outside, you could tell it used to have a second story. Doña Dolores offered us a seat in the plastic tables on her terrace, and brought a bowl of shrimp soup and white rice; the only meal she would serve today, in her home-turned-diner.

Doña Dolores was a mother of three. While we ate, her youngest, Dasha, a curly haired wonder dressed in pink, would ask us all kinds of things. When we asked her age, she lifted three fingers. When I asked if she had a favourite animal, she said ‘cow’. She asked if I liked colouring books, and when I said yes, she brought a thick photocopied book with pictures. I wondered if her mother had made it for her.

She showed me the pictures in her book. ‘This is a dog, and he is talking to this bird, see? And this is his mother. She is angry because he talked to strangers.’ She kept pointing to pictures and explaining each one to me, and even when the food arrived, I had to eat looking at her.  Andrés, one of the guys from my group, joined in, teasing her, acting as if he didn’t know the animals.

‘So … is that a cow?’

‘No, silly, that is a dog!’ said Dasha.

‘Now, that’s a cow,’ he said, pointing at another picture.

 ‘No, no, no! That is a goat! See the horns? Goat.’

‘Well where are the cows?’ he said, barely able to conceal his mirth.

Dasha became exasperated with him and turns the pages looking for a cow to show him. ‘See? That is a cow!’

‘Ooh, I see,’ he said, and I laughed at them. I scooted near her to see the page, and I pointed to a picture of a school. ‘And what’s that, Dasha?’

‘This is my school …’ she said, and I nodded, reminded of my niece, who once insisted a picture of a dog in her school book was one of her dog, not a dog.

‘But the building isn’t like that anymore …’ She then pointed to an image of a park. ‘And that is the park that got destroyed. ’ My smile fell as I locked eyes with Andrés.

Dasha turned the page and pointed at a picture of three little girls. ‘And these are my friends who died.’ She looked at her mother, not sensing the tension around the table. ‘Right mommy? These are my friends who died.’

Doña Dolores looked at us with sad eyes as she stroked her daughter’s hair. ‘She was playing with two friends in the house when it happened. She got caught under the rubble but I was able to pull her out. Her friends ran but the walls collapsed over them. She saw everything’. I looked down at Dasha and saw her smiling at me. She asked me if I wanted to be her friend.

‘Of course,’ I said, not having any words left.

***

The next morning we went to a refuge camp where people who had lost their homes were staying in tents. It was a place called Coaque, in the outskirts of Pedernales. I surveyed over fifteen families living in those tents. Some had little children, some had elderly parents. Others had family members who had fled to another city. Most of them only had a mattress and the clothes they had on, as they were living off donations rationed by government officials. None of them had jobs and no way to make a living at the moment.

They told me about their experiences from that day. How they had friends who had lost every member of their family and how they were able to escape. How an old man had gone outside just seconds before a wall fell, crushing his bed. How one of the children, a little girl of seven, saved her younger cousin of from the rubble that used to be their home.

They also told me about their situation at that time. How the men would go into the city and help others to rebuild. How they found some kitchen utensils in what they had gathered from the rubble and made a station to cook for all of them. How they would take turns watching each other’s children. How they supported each other during the horrible situation they were going through.

At midday, we went back up the road to wait for the car to pick us up. And I noticed something I hadn’t when we first arrived. Right in front of the slums, the sun was shining over hills covered by teak trees. The trees were lush, their leaves a green so bright they screamed life. It struck me as odd how such beauty could live alongside all that destruction and suffering. And I realised there’s a kind of beauty that always comes alongside disaster. These people had lost everything but still had the strength to go on, to smile, to help their neighbours and be grateful to be alive and to have their family with them—that was beautiful. The people back in Guayaquil delivering help in any way they could—that was beautiful. The group of volunteers around me, eager to lend their hands—they were beautiful.

The nuns who gave us a place to sleep. The lady who lent us one of the rooms of her hotel for us to shower. The families who offered us a place to sit in the shade while we were doing the survey. The councilor and his daughter who drove us to and from the farthest counties of Pedernales. Doña Dolores, creating a diner from what she had left of her home. Those families in the refuge camp, who shared what little they had left and supported each other, even if they weren’t family, even if the only reason they had met was because of this tragedy.

These people represented the strength of this town, the strength of Ecuadorians. That no matter how much we lose, we can have strength to stand up again.

Trees

Photograph by Claudia Sensi Contugi.

Words by Claudia Sensi Contugi. 

Claudia was an exchange student at Deakin University in 2014.

A Worthy MIFF Report

It’s 12:00 at night, and I am so tired. I have just seen my 5th movie of the day, speeding backwards and forwards between the major cinemas of the festival: Kino, Forum, Comedy Theatre, Hoyts in Melbourne Central etc., interspersed with meet-ups with mates, drinking cheap Japanese beer, and discussing the festival with feverish excitement. It is the 65th Melbourne International Film Festival, and from 28th July – 14th August, I and many other die-hard cinephiles will be in movie heaven. I sit where I normally sit; the 14th seat of the 3rd row of the ACMI cinema, one of my favourite cinemas of the festival. It is dark, moody, dramatic and refreshingly modern with exceedingly comfortable seats. The screen is displayed in front of me and my mate, here to see the 40th anniversary restoration of the American independent horror movie PHANTASM. We cannot wait as the background music plays in smooth jazz and beat-bop saxophone solos. On the screen we see, in giant, colourful fonts: MIFF Melbourne International Film Festival. Then the screen dims, the title screen shows, the foreboding music booms through the cinema. And the few of us dedicated or stupid enough to see the movie when most cinema goers had long gone home? We would not rather be anywhere else. This is MIFF in a nutshell.

This is the third year in a row I have attended MIFF. It costs around $300 to get a members passport to see as many movies as you are humanly able to. Pricey? Yes, but sweet Jesus it is worth every penny spent. You see movies from all over the world: Iran, France, Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Venezuela, China, Japan, Brazil, Spain, Thailand, Indonesia, Russia, Nigeria, Ethiopia etc., and they come from almost every era of film history, from the recently produced, to undiscovered classics. To enter, all you need is one of the amazing volunteers to scan your tickets—and you’re in. On top of these amazing films, from the usual digital projections right up to the exceedingly rare 35mm film prints, you will also have the opportunity to see the opening premieres of some of the most exciting names in cinema at the moment as they come for the film’s opening, or for a Q&A session with the directors themselves! You also have access to bars, little member’s lounges to indulge in a bit of free food and drink for relaxation, while chatting away to your fellow film nerds. It’s a wonderful life.

Phantasm remastered 2016 1979

PHANTASM: Remastered (2016;1979)

The fun of the movie-going experience really is the most exciting and nerve-racking part of the festival. For me, this year has being a rollercoaster of emotions and it still isn’t even finished! I have been blown away by films such as Ceila Rowlson-Hall’s Ma, a road trip film about the Virgin Mary told entirely through dance. Despite some walkouts and curses muttered under people’s breath, I was staggered at its extraordinary beauty, and when the director herself turned up for Q&A? I lost my mind. I walked up to her, nervous by her raw talent, and shook her hand and said ‘Thank you for such an amazing experience’ before I quickly ran away, along with my giddiness.

I have also shed tears over Studio Ghibli’s new film: The Red Turtle. This was an ecstatic experience of beautiful animation and the first film made under Studio Ghibli that was not created in Japan, instead, having animators from all over the world create a work of sheer beauty. Experimental films such as Khalil Blues, Evolution, My Life as a Courgette etc. I have also seen works that completely mystify me in their strangeness, such as the new Polish musical, The Lure, about two mermaids who become cabaret singers and how their sex lives and eating habits (closely intertwined) are obscuring their dreams of musical glory…

Where else but MIFF?

The Red Turtle 2016

The Red Turtle (2016)

The biggest highlights for me were four films: Starless Dreams, Cosmos, Death in Sarajevo, and The Family. These films represented what was brilliant about MIFF and the quality of the stories that are shared at the event. Cosmos is a nonsensical, yet witty and wholly original magical journey into cinematic creation, which is sadly the last film of wondrous (and personal favourite) Polish filmmaker Andrzej Żuławski (who created the wonderfully demented Possession in 1981). We also had a fantastic exposé documentary on a female detention centre in Tehran with Starless Dreams, with some of the most heartbreaking scenes I have ever seen in recent cinema (one of the girls calls herself 651 after how many grams of crystal meth she had being caught carrying). Death in Sarajevo is a loose adaptation of Hotel Europa, which was a provoking and contagiously arresting piece on Blakan region politics and the resulting violence. The Family, however is one of Australia’s biggest and most disturbing contribution to the festival, discussing the bizarre family cult that emerged in Melbourne during the 60s and 70s, featuring LSD injections, indoctrination, and child abuse. It is one of the most disturbing documentaries about one of the darkest times of recent Melbourne history.

I am always of the strong opinion that if anyone believes or thinks that cinema itself is dead, mutilated or slowly becoming extinct, they are very, very mislead. Thanks to MIFF (which is, as of now, the SECOND largest film festival in the world, next to Cannes Film Festival in France), everyone in Victoria is but a stone’s throw away from some of the most enlightening, funny, dark, tragic and beautiful stories that world cinema has to offer.

And now as the festival is wrapping up, I can say that I have had no sleep, watched dozens and dozens of films, interacted with the lovely volunteers of MIFF, and run across the entirety of Melbourne for some of the most magical and luminous stories modern cinema has to offer. I cannot wait to do this all over again next year.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for us cinema nerds.

Vivre la Cinéma!

Words by W.D Farnsworth.

Dominance

Animal cruelty is a horrific crime which takes many forms. It demonstrates the abuse of power and control people hold over the lives of other creatures. Some may feel that it is easy to show their seemingly supreme nature through acts of unkind treatment or the abuse of control over the voiceless soul of a poor animal. But I believe the true nature of humanity is found in the ability to recognise and banish such indecent desires to inflict pain upon another living being, and rather show compassion. Encroaching on an animal’s wellbeing with acts of violence or entrapping them in a life of mistreatment is no celebration or act of bravery. In fact, it is an act of cowardice and shows a sheer lack of humanity in a person. But we are not ignorant towards the storm in the lives of animals when they are being abused. Speaking out against animal cruelty is an act which truly satisfies the heart and gives us the incredible power to transform dark days of suffering into illuminative ones. The result of lighting up another being’s life in this way is something we can all treasure and cherish forever.

It should be impossible for anyone to turn away from the sufferings of an innocent animal caused by ghastly human acts. However, according to the RSPCA annual report for the 2014-2015 financial year, statistics show a terrifying total of 60,809 cruelty complaints, of which only 263 resulted in successful prosecutions. Earlier this year, I read about an incident which blew my mind and I will never forget what it was about. The story was about eight two-week-old puppies who were hurled against a boulder right in front of their mother. The reason behind this horrifying act was an attempt for the old lady to assert her utter dominance over the mother dog; to scare the dog away and teach her a lesson for having puppies in a dry drain under her gate. The mother dog lost her puppies right before her eyes. She was helpless to stop what was happening, and bewildered by the brutality, which traumatised her until she passed away six months later. I am still rendered speechless when I remember the awful details of that story. This barbaric act took away eight precious lives, and destroyed what could have been an innocent and happy family. We would never allow these things to happen to our own kind—our own families—and merely the thought makes my heart skip a beat.

Abandoned pets are an unfortunately common example of animal cruelty. They are warmly welcomed into families full of excitement, as birthday or Christmas surprises, but they are eventually ignored and left in dire circumstances. It’s hard imagining the plight of a three-month-old pet dog tied up in a polythene bag, or beaten and left to die in a deserted place with no shelter, food, or water. When pets come into our lives, they are meant to bring us happiness, but they also become our responsibility. They should not be treated like a commodity with some expiry date. And just as pets should not be treated this way, wild animals should not be treated this way either. How many news stories have appeared recently about sea animals who have been dragged out of water for a selfie, only to suffer injuries and death?

monkey-823047_1920

Even the thought of the way animals are slaughtered sends a chill down my spine. It is beyond human strength to witness the slaughtering of animals. From their heart-wrenching cries as they are queueing for their gruesome deaths, to their numb faces in torturous captivity. The images that depict their short and painful journeys are horrific. Their strong spirits are broken for ‘human entertainment’ in zoos and circuses. Our humanity is above and beyond everything, and we must all keep it alive until we die.

There are laws in place to punish those who commit crimes of animal abuse, and now more than ever, animal rights activists are growing in numbers and fighting for their cause. However, the unfortunate truth is that many of those who commit these crimes still get away unpunished. But I think it is important to remember that the universe finds a way to make us reap the consequences of the deeds that we have intentionally committed. It’s better late than never to understand our responsibilities towards the lives of animals and to help them bloom in any way possible. It is high time to respect their lives as equal to our own and do our bit to help them survive. Either choose to be protective towards them or stay miles away from their territory. We don’t own anything in this world, and we have been blessed temporarily with whatever we have. Just as some people think that they can take away the life and dignity of an animal, the supreme forces of nature can take away ours.

Words by Nisha Subhanje.

 

Everything Eddie McGuire didn’t say—his silence spoke louder than any ‘shotgun apology’ could

When Eddie McGuire landed himself knee-deep in a media s*it storm for his ‘playful joke’ about drowning a respected, female colleague in icy, cold water, it was a very strange affair.

It was strange that the media waited a week to attack McGuire, not acting until days after the broadcast had been aired. It was strange that callers joined in on the joke. I think of the little girls that were forced to listen to this on the morning drop-off to school. It was strange (but not surprising) that McGuire refused to apologise … until the eleventh hour.

This may be Eddie’s most disastrous fiasco to date—but it’s far from his first. Let’s not forget, this is the same man who compared Adam Goodes to King Kong, threatened to ‘bone’ journalist, Jessica Rowe while she was under employment with the Nine Network and thinks ‘mussies’ is a term of endearment for Muslims.

But now we go to that ‘shotgun apology’ that was uploaded to the Collingwood FC website very late the same evening.

I can only imagine that Eddie didn’t relent without a good tantrum. His apology said a lot.  It ticked all the clichés of a carefully crafted PR apology. It even managed to squeeze in some justification.

If there’s one thing worse than having to make an apology—it’s having to sit through a fake one.

In the spin that lasted just two and a half minutes, much was said. But what wasn’t said screamed out from behind McGuire’s carefully composed veneer.

Here’s my deconstruction of Eddie McGuire’s apology

‘TO THE Collingwood and the football community at large, I’ve spent the day taking counsel from friends and foes, senior government politicians, the AFL and community leaders.’

Translation: ‘This apology was made under duress—please buy it.’

‘In particular, Rosie Batty and an old footballing and political mate, Phil Cleary, both of whom have seen first-hand the tragic consequences of domestic violence.’

Translation: ‘I have no problem using the tragic circumstances of others to get myself out of hot water.’

 ‘I’m long past thinking of Caroline as anything but Caroline Wilson.’

Translation: ‘I’m long past thinking of Caroline as anything but one of the guys.’

‘In the last 24 hours, and particularly since this morning, I’ve seen the impact of the comments on her.’

Translation: ‘In the last 24 hours, and particularly since this morning, I’ve seen the impact of the comments on ME.’

‘No person should ever feel uneasy or threatened in football’s family.’

Translation: ‘Remember the 90s when my career would have never been threatened by this? Ah, memories.’

‘For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologise unreservedly to Caroline for putting her in that position.’

Translation: ‘Are you … are you buying this yet?’

‘I am a father and a husband.’

Translation: ‘My wife and kids like me … can’t you too?’

 ‘I am really disappointed that I made remarks that are at odds with my views on the place of women in modern Australia.’

Translation: ‘I am really disappointed that I can’t crack one little drowning joke without a public apology.’

‘On July 23, our club, in conjunction with the Pratt Foundation, will host a scheduled fundraising function with Rosie Batty.’

Translation: ‘When all else fails throw money at the problem.’

‘Today, on what would have been her son Luke’s 14th birthday, and having spoken to Rosie earlier, I’ll be making a personal contribution to support the victims of domestic violence.’

Translation: ‘Seriously, other people’s tragedies are a rich tapestry to exploit.’

‘At a time when I am so looking forward to being president of three women’s sporting clubs — Collingwood women’s football, Collingwood netball and the Melbourne Stars women’s cricket club, it is important to show leadership on this issue.’

Translation: ‘I’m letting them play professional sport out of my own pocket. Isn’t that enough?’

‘That includes being able to admit you are wrong and willing to learn.’

Translation: ‘I haven’t learnt jack and with the attention span of the Australian media—neither will most of you.’

Sponsors and even Football Clubs are removing themselves from Eddie, and there’s hope in that. But as I sit here writing this just over a week of bad publicity has washed over Eddie McGuire—the furore is already simmering down.

Caroline Wilson may accept McGuire’s apology—but I and many other people will find it unforgivable and unforgettable.

Words by Natalie Corrigan.

 

Social Enterprise Conference 2016

On Thursday 19 May, DUSA club SeCo (Social Enterprise Collective) hosted the third annual social enterprise conference on-campus, featuring a number of inspiring change-makers and go-getters as guest speakers. The crowd got to hear from Thankyou’s Justine Flynn, Hunter Johnson from The Man Cave and Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), Long St Coffee’s Jane Marx, and Andrew Mahar from xpand Foundation.  Through listening to each of the speakers, their stories, and their advice, it was clear that each of them represented integral aspects of social enterprises that also brought to light the things they value personally.

Perhaps best known to the crowd was Thankyou’s Cofounder and Director of Brand and People, Justine Flynn. Thankyou was created by this brilliant woman, mother, and Deakin alumni, and her husband Daniel with the aim of funding life-changing water, food, and hygiene and sanitation projects through their sales. For Justine and Daniel, it all started with bottled water, which globally we spend over $60 billion on every year. Meanwhile, a quick web-search reveals that 783 million people around the world don’t have access to safe drinking water. This was the first global problem that Thankyou aimed to alleviate, and their goals have broadened to funding other projects to help people in need since, with over $3.7 million given so far.

But the start was bumpy, from teachers discouraging the initial idea, to problems with the factory and distributor, and overall the fact that Justine and Daniel started Thankyou without really knowing what they were doing. However, there was plenty of generosity and luck, including a gift of $20,000 from a marketing teacher, and the success of the Coles and Woolworths Campaign, in which a helicopter with a banner flew around the supermarkets’ headquarters asking them to stock the Thankyou brand.

The second speaker of the evening was philanthropist and man of laughs, Hunter Johnson, Cofounder of The Man Cave and Innovation Manager at Foundation for Young Australians (FYA). Hunter started with a story about how he went from a hyper-masculine athletic upbringing to being involved with social enterprises after a horrific football injury that nearly took his life.

FYA is Australia’s largest youth foundation which teaches young people entrepreneurial skills and backs up other similar programs, extending their resources to remote and regional areas. In his role with FYA, Hunter said, ‘I literally get paid to work with young people. I work with five year olds. And I work with thirty year olds. And some thirty year olds act like five year olds.’

By cofounding The Man Cave, Hunter hopes to tackle the toxic masculine mindset that says all men must be strong, athletic, and emotionless by providing a preventative mental health and emotional intelligence program. This builds support and tools to strengthen the emotional literacy of the male population.

‘Emotional literacy, especially with young guys, is stunted,’ Hunter said.

The Man Cave deconstructs, challenges and redefines what it means to be a man. The Man Cave runs different activities such as word and image association games that encourage discussion and critical non-judgemental evaluation of the self, perpetuating a healthier discourse around men and their emotions and ideals.

Next we got to hear from Jane Marx from Long St Coffee, which started  when Jane was volunteering her time to teach English to asylum seekers and refugees in Collingwood and coming to understand the lack of work opportunities these people had available to them after fleeing their war-ravaged homelands and settling in Australia. With a strong hospitality background and a passion for human rights and change-making, Jane and her partner Francois started a series of pop-up cafes which eventually grew into the establishment which is now Long St Coffee.

Long St Coffee provides six months of training through part-time internships for refugees seeking asylum, under the age of twenty-five, with no previous hospitality experience required. They secured funding for their social enterprise through competitions, bank loans, crowdfunding, and even personal savings.

The final speaker for the night was social enterprise veteran Andrew Mahar, who has been in the change-making business for over twenty-five years. Andrew’s current work is through the xpand Foundation, which supports several initiatives in Timore Leste: InfoTimor, WithOneSeed, WithOnePlanet, and WithOneBean.

InfoTimor aims to create positive social change through the use of information communication technology. Through this initiative, people from Timore Leste were trained in order to be able to maintain the technology Andrew and the InfoTimore team set up for them. The WithOneSeed initiative led Andrew to meet Tim Flannery, with whom Andrew discussed the idea of replanting the forests in Timore Leste and creating opportunities for the communities there by paying them to care for the new trees. Timore Leste, like many other places around the world, relies heavily on fossil fuel, and the cycle of deforestation, top-soil erosion, and failing cash crops shows the impact using these non-renewable resources can have on a community. Replanting forests also takes a step towards countering the effects of fossil fuel carbon emissions.

‘4% of carbon emissions come from the technology we use,’ Andrew said.

WithOnePlanet strives towards climate change education by linking school communities from Australia and Timore Leste and challenges students to think about carbon, culture, and citizenship in line with Australian Curriculum. The initiative encourages them to think about creating an environmentally sustainable future. The last initiative that xpand Foundation supports is WithOneBean, which supports coffee farmers in Timore Leste, working to end poverty and hunger, replant the forests, promote education, and replenish the planet with its organic, ethically, socially and environmentally sourced coffee.

Through listening to the stories being told by each speaker and the impact they are making around the world, many positive characteristics shone through to embody what social enterprises are really about. Justine’s Thankyou story was one of courage and bravery, not only in facing hardships, but also in trying something new, failing, and learning. Many of the jobs we do can be broken using the 80-15-5 rule, in which 80% of what you do can be done by someone else, someone can be trained to do 15%, and only 5% is something that only really you can do—and that should be your focus and your purpose.

‘Your WHY is your biggest anchor.’

Hunter shared how he found his purpose during his recovery, when he was depressed because he wouldn’t be able to play sports again and he felt like he had lost his masculine identity. One day, his grandfather said, ‘If you were so good at sport, why couldn’t you put that energy towards something a little more meaningful?’

This imparting of wisdom helped Hunter to become aware that he’d been defined by stereotypes of masculinity when he didn’t need to be, and strive to change that within himself and the world around him. Similarly, Jane had to challenge dominant social values in order to get Long St Coffee up and running. There has been ongoing negativity around asylum seekers from many Australians who make assumptions about how and why these people are different. Jane talked about how teaching these young people employable hospitality skills and letting them serve people coffee and meals helps to normalise their presence. Long St Coffee is creating a change in the way people think about refugees and asylum seekers to encourage a more inclusive and culturally diverse Australia, which will only serve to create more opportunities for these hard-working people.

‘We were very creative about who we asked for help,’ Jane said, listing off a plumber, two property lawyers and a cobbler who helped them get started.

Jane’s conviction and creativity in making change is also embodied by Andrew, who has maintained his drive for doing good in the world for a long time and has strived to address numerous global issues in innovative ways.

Andrew defines a social enterprise as a business model which is about delivering community wealth, and this is reflected through the goals and values of each of the speakers and their social enterprises.

‘Social enterprise is about community. It’s not about one person. That’s really important,’ Andrew said.

And when questioned about their views on failure, another thing they all had in common was their ability to view bumps in the road as opportunities to learn and try again rather than reasons to give up—to be honoured rather than feared.

‘Sometimes we have to blaze trails and we have to learn as we go,’ Justine said of her experience with Thankyou.

The speakers at the Social Enterprise Conference shared inspiring stories of failing, learning, and successful change-making. But more than that, Justine, Hunter, Jane, and Andrew encouraged us to be conscious of the products we consume and how our decisions could shape the world around us. Everyone has the potential to make a difference and should strive to do so, even in small ways. That’s not to say that everyone should start their own social enterprise, but simply by thinking like a social entrepreneur and seeing what changes you could make to your lifestyle, and subsequently the world around you. If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Words by Bonnee Crawford. 

Floating In-Out (Same Boat)

I’m being told, constantly
And constantly ‘being’ something
Whoever the ‘they’ are,
They’re great at convincing me of who ‘I’ am, of who ‘we’ are
It’s a riddle wrapped in a puzzle,
A conundrum, without a doubt

Jeff told me that he would make a million dollars by age 23,
I believed him

Jason told me that he had thought long and hard but that, at the end of the day,
He was ‘pretty sure’ that he wasn’t gay
I didn’t believe him

Jeff’s dead now
Jason’s married

Married to a wo-man
Married to a fe-male
Married to an ‘ideal’

You know, when you’re moving around, shackles will weigh you down, to be sure
But if you’re lost at sea, trying your best to float
They’ll kill you, however slowly

Married to a woman
A constant fog
Medication that’s purposefully administered

Ideals of the ‘they,’ enforced

The ‘ideal’:
‘Conservative-Christian,
Right Wing-Republican,
Straight-white, American Male’

Todd stood up and said it,
By some sort of goddamn miracle, I was ready
I heard him
I hear him in every quiet moment since
There is no respite

And I miss my friends
I’ll tell you this,
I fucking miss my friends

I’d floated for a long time,
27 years, A sodden-log in a sea wet with shit
Going with the flow
Taking the waves as they came
But seeing Jeff there, in that bed,
With the tubes and tape and wire running in and out of him,
Tributaries funnelling electric-life into a hollowed out husk,
An organism that had at one time been so robust,
So beautiful

I was overcome
Overcome, because it was the first time I ever recognised my friend
The first time I ever recognised him and everything that he had suffered through
That I had suffered through
That we all suffer through, every day of our lives

The ‘ideal,’ the ‘ideal,’ the ‘ideal,’

‘They’ have bestowed upon us their own image of what we ‘should’ be
‘They’ have created our shackles and we wear them willingly

But, you know, you can really only ever drown if you stay floating in the water

Words by TJ Boone